- Jul 31, 2013
Sakke Leponiemi dominated the MX5 Cup Championship, leaving everyone behind him fighting for P2 on back. Leponiemi won every race that he entered in, only getting passed once - at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit - for only half a lap. His cool and calm demeanor was shown not only by the way he took every corner, but also how well he defended his position.The MX5 Cup car is one which requires extreme focus on momentum. The car reaches a top speed of about 115 MPH (185 KMH), but the car's low weight and lack of downforce restricts the driver from going flat-out the entire time around the track. Thus, momentum is required to achieve good lap times.
The definition of momentum, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is the “strength or force something has in motion.” One pilot fit this definition wholly in the RaceDepartment MX5 Cup Championship, the Suomi-born man Sakke Leponiemi.
Let’s take a look back at the RaceDepartment MX5 Cup Championship Season One.
ROUND 1: Silverstone National Circuit
Round 1 featured the only race not won by Leponiemi, as he was not able to join the server due to a booking issue and was unable to race. The location for the inaugural event in the MX5 Cup Championship was the Silverstone National Circuit. With clear sky conditions, the race was fast and intense. Tight battles were fought throughout the field, including a frantic few laps with Paul Blythe, Paul Jeffery, and Christian Schumann all fighting over P10 - leaving Blythe to be the unlucky one from this group, as he ended up in the wall after Copse. At the front, Talking Door Racing teammates, Geoffroy Tassenoy and Tobias Roehner, were fighting it out for the top spot of the podium, with the former on top. On lap 29, when it appeared that Roehner was catching up to his teammate, lapped traffic got in the way. Roehner lost time, but only gained it within the remaining laps. On the final lap, Tassenoy got loose coming on to the Club Straight, leading to a side-by-side battle with less than half-a-lap to go. Tassenoy held on for the win with Roehner finishing P2. The American, Tyler Breland, rounded out the podium in P3.
ROUND 2: Brands Hatch Indy Circuit
Round 2 welcomed Sakke Leponiemi for the first time. He grabbed the pole position with a blinder of a lap in qualifying, and with the exception of a few seconds on the first lap, he led every lap from that point on in the entire series.
Some early trouble occurred for Geoffroy Tassenoy, as he lost the car coming out of Druids on his second trip around the track. However, Tassenoy was not the only one to have their day go awry on lap 2; early-season championship hopeful Tyler Breland was run off track going into Graham Hill, pushing him back to P15. His day went from bad to worse when he collided with another driver in the Clarke Curve, sending him to P18.
It was all Sakke Leponiemi that day, as he grabbed the win. Pierre Cavillon and Tobias Roehner rounded out the podium in P2 and P3, respectively. Tassenoy crawled back to P4 while Breland had a great comeback drive to finish P8.
ROUND 3: Nordschleife
In round 3, at the Nordshleife, Sakke Leponiemi’s first major test took place. Tobias Roehner was breathing heavily down the Finn’s neck. Corner by corner, lap by lap, Roehner was right with him. Roehner eventually had two wheels in the grass at the exit of one turn and lost the car. Geoffroy Tassenoy passed his Talking Door Racing teammate for control of P2 in the final lap of the race, leaving Roehner on the bottom spot of the podium.
There was an intense battle on the final lap of the race for P4 between Artur Czarnecki and Pierre Cavillon. Cavillon, after getting loose on an exit, hit Czarnecki, and both drivers spun out. Cyrille Saussey passed both of them, and Cavillon started up past Czarnecki. Czarnecki finished P6 with Cavillon finishing P5.
ROUND 4: Monza
Round 4 took place at the famous Italian Grand Prix track, Monza. The historic venue featured some memorable battles in the mid-pack. Due to the long straights and the momentum required to drive the MX5 Cup car, drivers could get into the drafts of the other cars very easily; that draft proved to be essential in this race.
There was too many moments in the mid-pack to pick the best one, but one maneuver stood out from the others, and that was Tyler Breland employing some NASCAR-like moves and going 3-wide on some sections of the track. He made it work, however, and that led him to a P7 finish.
Frank van Oeveren, a driver who might’ve gone under the radar in some races beforehand, enjoyed seeing the action going on in front of him; it allowed him to go through the battling drivers, giving him a very respectable P6. In front, Sakke Leponiemi was again the driver to beat, crossing the line first. The win allowed him to take over the top of the championship standings. Tassenoy and Roehner rounded out the podium.
ROUND 5: Vallelunga Club Circuit
Round 5 at Vallelunga contained one of the biggest moments of the season. On lap 34 of the 45 lap event, Leponiemi held a 7 second lead over Tassenoy and Roehner respectively, who were fighting it out for P2. According to Leponiemi, a lapped car appeared to lag right in front of the championship leader. Leponiemi ran into the lapped car, evaporating his massive lead in the blink of an eye.
There was a 3-way race for the lead, with all cars within a mere second of each other. Tobias Roehner, who seemed to be the faster of the two Talking Door drivers this race, could not overtake Geoffroy Tassenoy no matter how hard he tried. At one point, Tassenoy defended Roehner all the way to the grass after the 180-degree Roma curve. After a frantic finish, Leponiemi held on for the win, while Tassenoy came in P2 and Roehner rounded out the podium.
ROUND 6: Brands Hatch GP Circuit
The finale, round 6 at the Brands Hatch GP Circuit, was finally upon us. All Sakke Leponiemi had to do was finish P3 or higher to secure the championship. Tassenoy was the only one with a fighting chance in the roster of drivers, even though Roehner was mathematically still in the hunt. Tassenoy’s qualifying was a sign of things to come in this race, however; a starting spot of P5 was not what he needed, especially after Leponiemi’s P1 start. On the first lap of the race, he ran into the gravel outside of Druids, throwing him into P15, and effectively destroying his hopes of putting up a fight. He was able to crawl to P6, before getting loose in the GP section of the track and smacking the wall extremely hard. On the next lap, lap 20 of the 27 lap event, Tassenoy collided with Frank van Oeveren and Paul Jeffery, putting him into the gravel in the Stirlings Bend. In one of the most miserable days you can possibly have in racing, Tassenoy was finished. Out of the championship, he went back to the pits, ending his season right there and then.
Tobias Roehner, who was sat in P2 in the race and P3 in the championship, was able to leap his teammate to finish second in the championship. Tassenoy went into the race with a chance at the championship, but he came out finishing third. It was all Sakke Leponiemi on this day, however, as he finished P1 again and clinched the championship.
It is pretty remarkable that a driver who missed the first race of the year was able to still win the championship. Sakke Leponiemi did just that.
Just below is a highlight video of the season. Relive the incredible run from Sakke Leponiemi and some of the intense racing all throughout the field!
The next series on Assetto Corsa is the ever-so popular GT Championship, debuting October 8th at Monza with the broadcast beginning at 18:30 GMT. Click here for info regarding the new series.
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